The number of people forced from their homes but still living in their own country is nearly two-thirds greater than the global total of refugees who have sought shelter abroad.
A total of 41.3 million people were living in a state of internal displacement by the end of 2018 due to violence, researchers for the organisation found, with increasing numbers unable to return home for protracted periods. This is a rise of more than a million on the previous year.
“Because they haven’t crossed a border, they receive pitiful global attention,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Millions are being “failed by ineffective national governance and insufficient international diplomacy”, said Egeland.
Separate analysis from the report on people newly displaced in 2018 found that 28 million were forced to flee over a 12-month period – a slight decrease on 2017, when 30.6m were internally displaced. This figure included 10.8 million affected by conflict, and 17.2 million who fled because of disasters.
“If you consider just the science and the evidence that climate change in the future will increase the frequency and intensity of these weather hazards, we can only infer that displacement will increase in the future,” said Alexandra Bilak, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s internal displacement monitoring centre, which produced the report.
Bilak added that the role of local municipalities in accommodating the large numbers of displaced people who arrive in cities has been overlooked. Civil society groups in Dhaka, one of many cities that is struggling to cope with the arrival of displaced people, are exploring ways of diverting people to other secondary cities in Bangladesh, she added.
“Now it is a question of preparing secondary cities across the country to become receptive to new flows of people arriving, and how those new municipalities are going to have to adapt,” said Bilak.